Incense smoke contains particulates and chemicals that can have negative health impacts. Depending on the ingredients used, it can also be an allergy trigger.
To minimize exposure, opt for all natural incense. You should also burn it in a well ventilated area. Inhaling excessive amounts of smoke can cause respiratory symptoms or diseases, especially in those with asthma and bronchitis.
1. Cleanse the Air
Incense can be used for many reasons, from a spiritual ceremony to freshening the air in your home. It can also be helpful in covering up unpleasant smells and creating a nice atmosphere for meditation, yoga or just relaxing.
A variety of substances, typically plant-based, are used to make incense. Some incense sticks are even made of wood. A study in mice found that compounds isolated from frankincense resins have anti-inflammatory properties.
Some studies have shown that incense smoke pollutes the air. When it is burned, it releases particulate matter and gas products, including benzene, xylene and formaldehyde, into the air. These pollutants can cause pollution and respiratory problems when inhaled. Temples that burn incense have been shown to exceed WHO’s recommended safe concentration levels of these gases.
2. Relaxes the Muscles
Inhaling the scent of incense can calm the mind and relax the body. Some of the most popular incense for relaxation include lavender, sage, and peppermint. However, you can use any kind that resonates with you. Just be sure to do your meditation in a well-ventilated room so that you don’t inhale too much of the smoke.
Studies have shown that burning incense can contribute to high levels of particulate matter in the air and increase your risk of respiratory disorders like asthma. The chemical compounds found in smoke may also trigger chronic inflammation in the lungs and cause oxidative stress.
Another concern is the potential increased risk of cancer from inhaling the fumes produced by the burning of resin incense. These chemicals are called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and have been linked to lung cancer in some studies. The PAHs in incense smoke can change the lungs’ structure and lead to a higher risk of cancer.
3. Reduces Stress
Inhaling the aromas of incense calms the mind and relieves stress. Depending on the scent you choose, this can also help boost your creativity and enhance your mood.
Incense can also aid in alleviating respiratory issues. The smoke from burning incense sticks is rich in organic compounds such as aldehydes and ketones. When these are inhaled, they can cause irritation of the skin and mucus membranes.
When inhaled, these chemical compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream and then enter the lungs. In one study, rats exposed to Ma’amoul incense for 14 weeks experienced degenerative changes in the lungs including necrosis and fibrosis of the alveolar pneumocytes.
It is important to choose a high-quality incense that is made from natural ingredients. Avoid synthetic fragrances, as they can irritate the lungs. Instead, look for incense made from woody plants and aromatic herbs. Watch the trails of smoke, and focus on observing their various paths and patterns. This can be an excellent form of mindfulness and meditation.
4. Aids in Sleep
Inhaling the pleasant aromas emitted from certain incense can help improve your sleep. This is because some of the ingredients that are used in the making of incense have sedative properties. Some of these incense ingredients include lavender, neroli, and roman chamomile. According to research published by the NLM, these calming odors can increase your chances of getting a good night’s rest.
A well-chosen fragrance can also stimulate creativity and enhance concentration. This makes it the ideal companion when studying or engaging in a hobby that requires detailed focus. Less intrusive than having music playing in the background, this type of fragrance will have a subtle effect on your mind and body.
However, long-term exposure to incense smoke is dangerous. It emits pollutants containing particulate matter and gas products that cause airway disease and health problems. It is also a risk factor for elevated cord blood IgE levels and is a possible trigger for nasopharyngeal cancer.